NASCOE Seeks Volunteers for Internal Task Forces

To:  All NASCOE Members
From:  Brandon Wilson, NASCOE President
Purpose:  Recruit volunteer assistance on two special NASCOE task forces


Recently NASCOE has announced two initiatives which will utilize membership assigned to a task force for input during the planning process.  Those assignments are:   

  • Technology Coordinator Task Force: This task force will determine what qualifications are needed by a new “Technology Coordinator” volunteer position which will be created by NASCOE.  The task force will also identify key technology priorities for use in NASCOE business processes.
     
  • Teleconference Alternative Task Force:  This task force will determine cost effective alternatives to the current method of NASCOE internal communications by teleconference.  

NASCOE will fill positions in these groups with a combination of existing NASCOE leadership and new NASCOE leadership.  NASCOE is encouraging all members, (especially those who attended the recent NASCOE Leadership Conference in Dallas) to consider applying for a seat in one of these groups.  NASCOE believes there may be members in county offices who are passionate about technology and who can provide forward thinking innovative ideas to these NASCOE initiatives.

Task force interactions will likely take place using e-mail and teleconference communication.  Some minimal travel could be required.  Time commitments would be around 1-2 hours/month until the task force is completed.

Interested attendees must provide the following information:

  • Short narrative on technology interest, background and skills
  • Preference of task force
  • Contact information (e-mail and phone number)
  • Other helpful information 

The deadline to apply is end of day, December 13, 2019.  Replies should be emailed to the following:

NASCOE President Brandon Wilson Contact information

Thankful for the Blessings Amid Our Challenges

Thanksgiving is a time where we can reflect and be thankful for all the blessings in our lives.  As employees of the Farm Service Agency, we have had a really tough and stressful year on the job.   However, we should realize blessings are still plentiful, and our deeds are certainly helping an agricultural sector in need.  I hope this year each and every one of you were able to get away from work and enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday by spending it with family, friends or just relaxing. 

This year, like every year, I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my job.  I am also thankful for our employee organization (NASCOE) and what it does for its membership.  I want to make a special point and say “thank you” to those who have taken time to become members of NASCOE and help with the heavy lifting NASCOE does for FSA employees each and every day.  The basis of NASCOE’s ability to work for membership is the Labor Management Agreement that it holds with FSA.  We all should be thankful for this agreement, which allows NASCOE members to advance good ideas and provide feedback to management on how office functions are or are not working.  It’s not often that employees of such a large organization have the opportunity to provide input that may eventually foster positive change in their very own workplace. 

As you may already know, members of NASCOE can suggest good ideas on the NASCOE website at any time.  Once ideas are received, vetted, and accepted, NASCOE can then begin working with management to see if they will implement suggested changes.

The Leadership Excellence for PT Development Program is one example of an idea that was recently suggested by a PT, to NASCOE through the negotiations program.  NASCOE negotiated the suggestion with management and thankfully they accepted the idea and promised to roll it out.  Last year was the first year the program was implemented.  Program participants were overwhelmingly thankful for the opportunity to attend the program.  Reviews provided by participants were very positive.  It appears the program was able to build leaders and boost morale. 

This year Notice AO-1739 was issued, which announced the Leadership Excellence for PT Development Program would once again be held this year.  NASCOE actively encourages PT’s to consider the merits and the possibility of participating in this program.  Interested PT’s should visit with their supervisor and review the notice carefully for required application details and deadlines.   

NASCOE is thankful that FSA has amazing employees with great ideas and that we have a labor management agreement with FSA.  If any County Office employees have ideas similar to the Leadership Excellence for PT Development Program or have any thoughts on how we can improve and make our daily jobs more efficient, NASCOE encourages them to submit those ideas through the NASCOE website.

Buy Emblems – Save Money and Fund Scholarships!

Emblems by Superior has been our official provider of quality apparel and accessories for NASCOE since 2015.  Please check out the current selection of items at the NASCOE Emblems Store online at https://nascoe.org/store/.  

Did you know that you can custom order shirts for meetings, conferences or any other events you are having?  Reach out to Mike & Denise Hamilton and they will be happy to assist you with creating custom t-shirt designs, supplying USDA merchandise for your meetings, or simply personalizing your items by embroidering your name on them.

Having a state training, meeting, or convention?  Reach out to Emblems by Superior for your Emblems needs.  They will ship items to your training site at no charge–you sell what you can and then return the items not sold (you only pay return shipping). Folks can place pre-orders online and they will ship with the Emblems merchandise at no additional shipping fee.  Contact Emblems by Superior for details.

The Hamilton’s and I have been working on ideas to get USDA apparel in your hands at a great price.  We are going to continue to run a monthly special. Want to know what that item is and what the code is to receive it at a discount? Please go to Facebook and like Emblems by Superior.  Also, email Superior at  and request to be added to their mailing list.  

Over 35 new items have been added to your NASCOE website. This is just in time for the Black Friday Week Sale which is going on right now through midnight Sunday, December 1, 2019.

Remember, a portion of all sales go to the NASCOE scholarship fund!!

Fall 2019 NASCOE Newsletter Now Available

Part of NASCOE’s publicity strategy is to publish four newsletters over the course of the year. The Fall 2019 NASCOE Newsletter is now available for our members. You may view the NASCOE Newsletter below, or download a copy to share with your co-workers.

NASCOE Newsletters can be found at: https://nascoe.org/publicity/

NASCOE Area Newsletters and Bulletins can be found on the Area pages:
https://nascoe.org/area-information/

Download PDF

NASCOE_Newsletter_Fall2019

NASCOE Legislative Flash – Senate Vote on Continuing Resolution

Continuing Resolution Senate Vote
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant
November 21, 2019

By vote of 74-20, The U.S. Senate today passed a short-term measure to fund the government until December 20th, buying Washington four more weeks before the threat of another shutdown.  The White House has indicated that President Trump will sign the continuing resolution. 

Since the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have both passed their versions of the Agriculture Appropriations bill, we are hopeful the two draft measures will be finalized in conference prior to the December 20th deadline. 

The NASCOE Legislative Team will continue to monitor the appropriations bill and keep the membership informed of any progress.

NASCOE Legislative Flash Update – November 19, 2019

Continuing Resolution Vote and NASCOE Preparations
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant
November 19, 2019

By a vote of 231 to 192, the House of Representatives today passed the continuing resolution to keep the government open through December 20, 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor statement today that the Senate will pass the continuing resolution and President Trump will sign it.

The Leader also mentioned that talks continue regarding completion of the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills.  As a reminder, the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have both passed the Agriculture Appropriations bill.  We are hopeful the two draft measures will be finalized before the December 20 deadline.

Although we have no indication a government shutdown is anticipated, Chris Lary, National Benefits/Emblems Chair, has been taking a proactive role to prepare in case there were to be a furlough.  Many employees have been contacted regarding what worked well last time and what didn’t work so well.  She has complied information in order to help mitigate the impact of a furlough.

The employee checklist for furlough has been reviewed, web links have been viewed and verified and NASCOE is prepared should the need arise to get membership information to assist them.

Please make sure your State President has your current home email address so that you will receive this information timely.

Convention Hotel Reservations Now Open!

Reservations can now be made for the 61st NASCOE Convention in Savannah, Georgia, to be held on August 8 to 13, 2020. The Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency on River Street in Savannah.

The link to make your hotel reservations is:
https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/group-booking/SAVRS/G-GCOO

The room rate is $116.00

We will kick off the convention on Saturday, August 8th with tours taking place on Sunday, August 9th. The meetings will start on Monday and continue through Wednesday. The banquet will be held on Wednesday evening.

Registration for the convention is still in the works, but we wanted everyone to have a chance to go ahead and reserve a room.

A New Benefit for NASCOE Members!

Dear Members of NASCOE,

In our continual dedicated efforts to always serve our members with maximum value we are excited to announce that we have just partnered with LiveStreamingFitness.com as our “official” online healthy lifestyle resource!

Why did we do this? Because you and your family matter to us! We believe that every one of you should have affordable access to resources like fitness, nutrition and cooking to serve you and your family in living your healthiest life. LiveStreamingFitness.com is an on-line healthy lifestyle platform that includes live streaming and on demand fitness, nutrition and cooking shows available 24/7 in a safe and interactive community of professionals and individuals promoting the best version of a healthy you.

On top of that, WE NEGOTIATED ON YOUR BEHALF…a membership like this normally costs $99 per year. For only $49 per year, with your NASCOE promo code**, you will have full access to these amazing resources! Also, get EXTRA FREE MONTHS if you hurry and enroll before December 1st; your membership will be valid through the entirety of 2020!

**Get the NASCOE Program Code from your state Benefits Chair

Check out the information below to enroll and let’s get started living our healthiest lives together!

Congressional Agricultural Hearings — October 28, 2019

FSA County Office Employees are facing challenging times.  You are administering more programs from various software platforms than ever before.  You face these challenges head on each day with fewer employees than we have ever had.  NASCOE understands you are struggling to meet the daily demands of providing an ever-increasing array of programs while maintaining the same quality of service your customers expect and deserve.

Your NASCOE team has worked diligently with the FSA Administration to increase staffing in field offices.  We supported the development of a work measurement tool to support our case for additional staffing, however the administration continues to withhold the full results of the workload model.  Members of Congress have also requested on multiple occasions and been denied this information from the Department.

NASCOE continues to work with concerned members of Congress to provide additional funding for FSA salaries and expenses.  Congress has responded and provided their support.  They are concerned about the American Farmers who depend on you to deliver the farm programs passed by Congress to help keep rural America strong.  Due to these concerns, both Houses of Congress have recently held hearings on the 2018 Farm Bill Implementation.  They have asked the tough questions regarding FSA county offices being properly staffed so employees have the ability to administer these farm programs.

On September 19, 2019, Under Secretary Bill Northey testified at a joint House hearing of the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee and Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee to Review the Implementation of Federal Farm and Disaster Programs. You can view the hearing by clicking on the following link.

The hearing is 3 hours long so you may want to skip ahead to the following points indicated below to hear the items that best reflect the issues that NASCOE has been working closely with members of the House on:

1:06 – Congressman Peterson – Staffing concerns and part time offices

1:12 – Congressman Conway – 2018 Farm Bill implementation

1:15 – Congressman Peterson – Employment application process

On October 17th, Deputy Secretary Censky provided testimony and answered questions at a hearing held by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.  Below is a link to the page where you can watch this hearing.

Implementing the 2018 Farm Bill | The United States Senate Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry

You may want to skip to the following times which highlight the committees concerns about the status of FSA staffing:

0:36 – Senator Hoeven – FSA office staffing

1:21 – Senator Hyde Smith – Asks questions concerning the current law prohibiting the closure of any FSA county office without prior congressional approval, and prohibiting the relocation of any staff that results in an office with two or fewer employees

FSA programs are discussed at various points throughout both hearings.  Please take time to look at the clips from the hearings to see how NASCOE and Congress are working together to address these concerns with USDA.  We believe you will find that Congress is very aware of the lack of hiring going on in FSA across the nation.  You will also see how much Congress appreciates the work that our members do for American agriculture in county offices across this nation each day.